The Day Began with a Trip to the Kwik Trip.
(A brief, mostly true story by Sean from Mark's perspective.)
It's Saturday, February 6th, 6:15 am. I'm standing in line behind a very questionable-looking couple at a Kwik Trip in Appleton with a 6-pack of glazers in one hand and hot cup of joe in the other. When it's my turn at the checkout counter, I notice Sean is halfway out the door in an absentminded attempt at stealing his own cup of coffee. I chuckle to myself and consider waiting to see how far he gets, but the cashier is staring him down so I decide to ask him if he's going to pay for that. He snaps out of his morning fog and heads over to the register, giggling and shaking his head.
He puts his coffee on the counter next to the glazers, leans over to me and says, "I almost made it."
I can't tell if he's joking.
He pays for his coffee and jokes with the cashier about calling the cops. Now who's questionable-looking? We head outside and climb in the truck. Sean puts on his Ray-bans, takes a sip of coffee and says to me, "It's 82 miles to Sturgeon Bay. We've got a full tank of gas, a PA system, a six-pack of glazers, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses."
I know he's riffing on a line from The Blues Brothers, so I jam the key in the ignition, fire up the beast, and make an attempt at peeling out. There's an impressive low growl from the exhaustless motor, but this behemoth is too old and too loaded down to overcome the coefficient of friction between the tires and pavement.
Not even the faintest chirp.
Nevertheless, we're off to Snowkraft to do the announcing for race number two in the Snow Crown fat bike series, Koldwave, and we're tired as all get out. We were so excited to be doing this neither of us slept a wink last night. Not. A. Wink!
This is where the coffee and glazers come in; sugar and caffeine are trusted associates of ours. Within a few minutes, we're northbound on US-41, discussing the considerable talents of Katy Perry between mouthfuls of donut while California Gurls blares on the radio.
Fun Times at the Koldwave!
(In other words, the rest of the day.)
We arrived at Snowkraft at around 8:00am, or thereabouts. Give or take. Whatever.
We met up with George, owner and proprietor extraordinaire of Broken Spoke Bicycle Studio, as well as the man behind the Snow Crown series, and he gave us the lay of the land. The beautiful, meticulously-groomed land. It turns out we would have to hike in our equipment about a quarter mile on freshly groomed skate ski track. Good thing we ate all the glazers and drank all the coffee on the way up. We flipped our banquet tables over and used them as gear sleds to get everything loaded in. We felt bad for for leaving footprints and table tracks in the fresh corduroy, but the fatbikers would do much worse to it while having way more fun.
Racers began to arrive as we were setting up the noise machines and we started to get even more jittery and excited about the day ahead of us. There were two events scheduled for the day, a short, one-lap, seven-mile race; and a long, three-lap, 21-mile race. The course consisted of more or less a 50/50 split of single and double track. All of it extremely well-groomed by Tom, the owner at Snowkraft. There was one section through an orchard that was brutally tough due to rolling hills and soft snow, but the rest of the double track was delightful, and the single track was spectacular. Flowy and twisty, and nicely packed down.
As usual, our job for the day was to announce the race, give away prizes from sponsors Hinterland Brewing, The Bike Brew, Broke Spoke Bike Studio, and Wisconsin Women Cycling, and generally create a fun atmosphere. With all the racers starting their events at the same time, it meant that pretty much everyone in attendance was out on the course for the first hour, so we basically just entertained ourselves, which is pretty easy to do. We just found a shiny object to stare at for an hour.
Once people started crossing the finish line, the party started. There were more primes to give away, and there was beer from Hinterland, and food from Kick Coffee in Sturgeon Bay (made with love! Sorry, no love-free food available.) Surprisingly though, no one wanted to play Sean's game, "Is it Beer", in which contestants are challenged to taste a patch of yellow snow. If it's yellow from spilled beer, you win! If it's not, well... obviously, you lose.
Anyway, Cole House (Door County Brewing/Broken Spoke) finished first overall in the long race, followed by Mike Budd (Wheel & Sprocket) and Ryan Rollins. In the women's long race, Leia Schneeburger (Door County Brewing/Broken Spoke) took home first, followed by Diane Mueller (WiWomensCycling.com) and Deb Newman (Broken Spoke).
The rest of the results can be found here, thanks to Kevin at Ade Timing.
After the day was done and we were all packed up, we asked Tom to join us for a lap around the course, but he declined. He was too tired because he had in fact already ridden the course one final time earlier that morning to make sure everything was as well-groomed as possible given the current conditions.
That was at 3:00am.
Who does that? Who turns down a ride with us??
Just kidding. (It's most people, actually.) That's some real dedication, and based on rider feedback, it paid off. Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves.
Sidenote: it was our first time meeting Tom, but a few things were obvious: he's an extremely nice dude; he worked really, really, hard to get the course ready; and he was genuinely concerned that everyone had a great ride.
As I mentioned, after the race, we got out for a lap, and we highly recommend getting up to Snowkraft for some skiing or fatbiking. You'll have a blast, we promise.
In two weeks we'll be in Suamico at the Reforestation Camp for the final race in the Snow Crown Series, Fat Camp. If you didn't make it to Koldwave, (and especially if you did!) we hope to see you at ReFo for the final race of the Snow Crown Series.
Thanks for reading!
--Mark & Sean